Governor’s staff aware of pleas for more North Country school aid; Assemblywoman Russell hopes Cuomo will call for reform
Saturday, January 19, 2013 - 8:43 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

Assemblywoman Addie Russell (D-Theresa) says she has hope that when Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces his budget proposal next Tuesday afternoon he could ask for reform of school aid

“I’m not sure he is going to incorporate it, but they understand the importance of the issue for the North Country,” said the 116th “River District” representative.

“We’ve been vocal,” Russell said, alluding to the efforts of school groups, particularly in Canton, to highlight the issue of inequitable school aid calculations that have shortchanged the North Country, according to advocates.

Diminishing aid from the state has resulted in serious cuts to personnel and programs at many North Country schools while better-off suburban school districts have not faced such difficulty but still got substantial aid, state legislators from the North Country have said.

“The governor’s staff is aware of the increase in our advocacy, and I think it bodes well that our voices are getting through,” Russell said.

At a meeting in Canton Jan. 3 attended by Russell, Sen. Patty Ritchie (R-Heuvelton) and Assemblyman Marc Butler (R-Newport) and about 100 parents, teachers and school officials from around the county, the consensus of the legislators was that if there is to be significant aid reform this year, such a measure would have to be in Cuomo’s budget message to force consideration by the Senate and Assembly.

“The governor’s staff has heard that this is an issue of great importance to the North Country,” Russell said.